Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Linux Business Operating Systems Software Hardware

"Good Enough" Computers Are the Future 515

Posted by timothy
from the adequate-for-light-word-processing-and-small-sums dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Over on the PC World blog, Keir Thomas engages in some speculative thinking. Pretending to be writing from the year 2025, he describes a world of 'Good Enough computing,' wherein ultra-cheap PCs and notebooks (created to help end-users weather the 'Great Recession' of the early 21st century) are coupled to open source operating systems. This is possible because even the cheapest chips have all the power most people need nowadays. In what is effectively the present situation with netbooks writ large, he sees a future where Microsoft is priced out of the entire desktop operating system market and can't compete. It's a fun read that raises some interesting points."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

"Good Enough" Computers Are the Future

Comments Filter:
  • meh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Captain Splendid (673276) <capsplendid@gm3.1415926ail.com minus pi> on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @04:24PM (#27678587) Homepage Journal
    Being saying since the Pentium II days. This "always-be-upgrading-the-latest-spec" is fine for hardcore users, but for everybody else, "good enough" happened quite a few hardware generations ago. The sad part is that we're only now having this conversation.
  • by rsborg (111459) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @04:24PM (#27678595) Homepage
    Apple prides itself on some very quality products (both hardware and software) and makes quite a penny. Not to mention BMW, Dyson, etc... the list goes on about companies that spend a lot on design and reap the rewards.
  • by levell (538346) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @04:27PM (#27678643) Homepage

    The article argues that people won't upgrade from XP - it expects that as MS tries to force them, people will migrate to Linux instead. I think as Microsoft discontinues support for XP, people will move to Windows 7 - sales of Windows based netbooks seem to be much higher than for Linux.

    Whether the same will hold true when the time comes for MS to try to get people to upgrade from Windows 7 to whatever comes next, it's too early to tell. Hopefully by then Linux will have managed to gain enough market share that most people have heard of it and/or know someone running it and the barrier to a non-MS OS will be much lower

  • The future? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @04:30PM (#27678663) Homepage Journal

    Hell, that was 10 years ago.

    If we hadn't let the programmers run amok and force them to write efficient code, what we had back then was 'good enough' for most people. ( not all, but most )

    And to prove my point, i'm still running a 10 year old desktop with a 900mhz PIII running Freebsd on a daily basis.

  • Umm. Yeah? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @04:31PM (#27678695) Journal
    Is predicting the rise of "good enough" really all that bold? Although we don't think of it this way, the rise of "good enough" has already happened at least once.

    Remember all those $10,000+ Real Serious Workstations, running Real Serious OSes that real computer users did real work on, back when the kiddies were twiddling bits on the Z80 box they built in their garage? All of them are dead. Almost all computers now in use are the direct descendants of the low end crap of the past.

    Further, even within the category of boring x86s, almost all of us are already running something much closer to "good enough" than to "good". Some enormous proportion of PCs are in the sub-$1000 category, which still entails a bunch of tradeoffs(not nearly as many as it used to; but still).

    It will, indeed, be interesting if Microsoft hits the chopping block during the next round of "good enough"ing(or, more realistically, gets shoved to rather more cost insensitive business sectors that like backwards compatibility, the same way IBM was); but "good enough" is already all around us.
  • by jameskojiro (705701) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @04:32PM (#27678701) Journal

    Especially since the advent of "Slop-Ware" and Windows versions that need exponentially more power and capacity than the last version.

  • Re:meh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Captain Splendid (673276) <capsplendid@gm3.1415926ail.com minus pi> on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @04:35PM (#27678755) Homepage Journal
    You're missing the point. As I said above, there's a difference between hardcore users and genpop. My mom's a great example. A simple, lightweight email/web/skype tablet, and she's all set. And ~500Mhz of processing power is all you really need for that.
  • Re:meh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @04:37PM (#27678781)

    Yeah I expect "The Year of Good Enough Hardware" will coincide with the 10th anniversary of the "Year of Linux on the Desktop".

    We didn't need fast computers for everyday computing and then we started indexing the entire hard drive.
    We didn't need fast computers for everyday use and then we started watching YouTube h264.
    We didn't need fast computers for everyday use and then we wanted to be able to preview documents without opening them.
    We didn't need fast computers for everyday use and then we wanted to be able to...

    The list goes on and on.

  • by lewiscr (3314) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @04:38PM (#27678799) Homepage

    Will my 'good enough' computer handle my photo library, my 32MP entry level camera, recognise the faces in my photo collection. This sound like far fetched stuff today, but as these technologies peculate down from high end systems and people get used to the computer doing more of their mind-numbing repetitive tasks, user expectation will adapt and want them in their 'good enough' computers.

    Today's "Good Enough" computer won't. Tomorrow's "Good Enough" computer will.

    And from the FA, a "Good Enough" computer won't last forever. It just has to last long enough that Microsoft destroys itself because people don't buy a new OS every 2 years.

  • Cars (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cillian (1003268) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @04:39PM (#27678813) Homepage
    To continue the usual car analogy, this isn't what has happened with technology such as cars. Cars were "Good enough" long ago, but these days most cars still have an excess of performance and are far from "Good enough". Ok, I'm not entirely serious - I think we'll reach a point with computers where the performance gain becomes negligible (Either that or the current trend of bloat and crap increasing and everything being just as slow will continue). As there has been a recent surge in more environmental/efficient cars, similar things seem to be happening to computers - there are a decent number of advances in saving power and things these days in technology.
  • by notarockstar1979 (1521239) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @04:45PM (#27678903) Journal
    I've been in the small/medium sized business support for a while and I'm here to tell you that "Good Enough Computers" are the standard. You'll have a few engineers and designers (along with a boss or two that is a wannabe nerd) that have the latest and greatest but the vast majority of users in those businesses have had good enough computers for a long time. Sally Dataentryspecialist has a computer that she can type up Word documents on. Jimmy Executive has a laptop that's just good enough to browse porn and play DVDs. This includes home computers. They never ask about some brand new state of the art system (see exceptions above), it's always about the eMachine or Gateway that their dear grandmother left them when she died, and the only use it saw before they had it was traveling to church websites on Sunday.

    This is especially true in small town America.
  • Re:Smart enough... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by suso (153703) * on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @04:45PM (#27678905) Homepage Journal

    Its funny because the same feeling people get about using Linux (will it run what I need to), I now get when I boot into Windows. I sit there in front of windows and wonder, what can I do with this? I'm not sure its going to run the applications I need it to. The tables have turned.

  • by mcrbids (148650) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @04:45PM (#27678921) Journal

    The reality is that computers today "live longer" than they used to. Having a 9-10 year old computer was once unthinkable; it's now almost normal for just about any old Pentium 4 to still be in use today, and the Pentium 4 was apparently released in late 2000. [raptureready.com]

    I put a new (but cheap!) AGP video card into an older P4 desktop computer (hint: PC-133 RAM!) that my son now uses to play Spore - one of the newer, hotter games around - it plays just great.

    It's a trend - computers are "doing" for longer than they used to. They are in use for longer, and people hang on to them longer. They are less willing to buy the top-end because there's no reason to.

  • Re:meh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eil (82413) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @04:46PM (#27678923) Homepage Journal

    Agreed completely. There was a time when I absolutely had to have the latest and greatest just to get things done. Now, my ome and work PCs are years old and are running CPUs that were low-budget even when brand new.

    Unless you're building some kind of specialized business or research system, the only reasons to shell out thousands of dollars on hardware is if you're doing virtualization or are a hardcore gamer with no social life. :P

  • by twidarkling (1537077) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @04:46PM (#27678925)
    But "good enough" computing won't suffice for gamers. They're usually the ones who drive the cycle of upgrading usually anyways. Most gamers' systems are ridiculously overpowered (mine included), and will continue to be so, well after games have reached the point to be indistiguishable from reality. They're always going to want to push that just one FPS more, that extra level of AA, etc. PC gaming enthusiasts won't go away, and as more generations grow up with computers, they'll become more adept at using them, meaning they're going to be doing more, pushing systems harder. Frankly, most PCs from the past might very well have been good enough - if they'd had the RAM available to run a Web Client, Email Client, IM client, video player, casual game, and random other widgets and programs in the background without slowing to a crawl. Think that's excessive? I've seen it, multiple times. So imagine kids wanting to do even more than that all at once. Ignore the Windows vs. Linux argument. The core of it is, even if people got to the point where they all flipped over to Linux, the "good enough" computers of today just wouldn't be acceptable for the kids of tomorrow. However, it will also be like the seniors of today using their large cabinet TVs that are 20+ years old. Once someone today finds a computer that will let them do all their stuff that they need, they'll stick with it, or something similar for as long as they can. TFA is just an author-wank.
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @04:46PM (#27678929)

    This kinda of reminds of the '640KB should be enough for everyone' theory. If everyone is just content surfing the web and writing e-mails, then sure the 'good enough' solution sounds fair, but if 'good enough' also means dealing with a Windows ME experience then no thanks. At the same time what is considered 'good enough' will evolve over time and new solutions are created and user expectations evolve.

    That last sentence is the key to the whole debate. There's been wicked kewl shite just over the horizon ever since I've been in computers and for quite a few years beforehand. But we've reached a point where the innovations in software don't really require more horsepower on the user's machine.

    If we strictly consider the office work environment, we pretty much had everything we needed with win2k and office2k. There's been no new killer app introduced since then. Probably the only argument to be made is that there's more in excel 2007 than in 2k but those extra goodies came at the price of a lot of crap.

    Also bear in mind that the customer base has fragmented tremendously. Computer users used to be a unified market of geeks and business types but now it's as fragmented as the user base for home entertainment. Some people are happy with a small broadcast TV, some people need a thousand cable channels and a 72" screen with all the doodads. Both people are in the same general market but their segments are widely divergent.

    Will my 'good enough' computer handle my photo library, my 32MP entry level camera, recognise the faces in my photo collection. This sound like far fetched stuff today, but as these technologies peculate down from high end systems and people get used to the computer doing more of their mind-numbing repetitive tasks, user expectation will adapt and want them in their 'good enough' computers.

    Call that ten years from now. I don't have an interest in photography now, probably won't by then, but since you do you'll be happy to upgrade for those features. I know I'll have a different machine by then and will be doing different things. Your mother might still be happy running on your trade-down, it does everything she needs.

    In many ways plenty of people are already using 'good enough' computers. Whether they are satisfied with them is a whole other question.

    Fifteen years ago most people didn't have a need for web and email so developing that need was pretty big in the first place. Some may never progress beyond that point.

  • Re:meh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Facegarden (967477) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @04:46PM (#27678937)

    Being saying since the Pentium II days. This "always-be-upgrading-the-latest-spec" is fine for hardcore users, but for everybody else, "good enough" happened quite a few hardware generations ago. The sad part is that we're only now having this conversation.

    Eh, it seems different now - companies don't just have a range of products ranging from slow to fast, they actually champion some of their slower products (netbooks). Even power users are buying a netbook for on the go use, because they are mostly good enough. Sure, we have big fast desktops, but this is the first time even power users are buying low powered machines.
    -Taylor

  • by levell (538346) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @04:49PM (#27678977) Homepage

    I have no issue upgrading to a 'new and better' operating system, on the condition that I see some worth in what's new and better.

    Once XP isn't supported and security flaws continue to be discovered, staying on XP will be unappealing.

  • by russotto (537200) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @04:55PM (#27679047) Journal

    Parkinson's law is "Work expands to fill all available time". It applies to processing power too. What's "good enough" today won't be "good enough" tommorrow, because someone will invent some CPU-sucking memory-hogging disk-flogging killer app that everybody will want to have.

    I don't know what it will be. But then again, who predicted grandmothers would be editing home movies of their grandkids on their computers? Try that on a machine which is just "good enough" for email and the web.

  • Re:Smart enough... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jezza (39441) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @04:57PM (#27679065)

    Have you actually seen Linux? Honestly - you CAN learn the CLI (and a powerful skill it is) but you really don't NEED to (no more than you need to use the CLI in Windows).

    Take a look at Ubuntu (which is one of the easiest Linux's out there). It's simple to install. Adding applications is easy. Updating is easy. Seriously, what's not to like (apart from the brown colour scheme)?

    You can get plenty of paid support, from proper firms (Oracle, Novell, IBM - to name a few). I'm not sure where the engineers live, but they've got jobs (even if they don't have windows).

  • Re:meh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moebius Loop (135536) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @04:59PM (#27679095) Homepage

    ...but what a difference 3 years makes when the current kernel has been basically synced to the MS upgrade cycle...

    I don't think it's fair to claim the kernel is synced to the MS upgrade cycle -- the kernel is not the problem, it's the desktop environments and the distros that feature them that are chasing the OSX/MS "bells and whistles".

  • Fallacy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Un pobre guey (593801) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @05:04PM (#27679145) Homepage
    This is an oft-repeated fallacy, that most people don't need powerful CPUs or OSs. A post above claims to have been saying this since the Pentium II days. This is essentially the same short-sightedness as the apocryphal "128K ought to be enough for anybody" remark from way back when.

    It is patently and obviously ridiculous. A Pentium II PC, especially on a Pentium II-compatible motherboard with its memory and other characteristics, would not be an acceptable platform for the average user. It would be very slow and would immediately have memory issues. Current graphics hardware would probably not be compatible, and even if it was the 3D software like OpenGL or the MS equivalent would have unacceptably bad performance. Contemporary games would be dreary experiences indeed.

    Lots of multimedia authoring software can use as many cores and as much RAM as you can afford. 3D gaming environments with ever more active objects, each with some amount of basic AI and moving parts, will also keep pushing the envelope even further. "Tab creep" in your web browser, where you end up accumulating open tabs, each with graphics, javascript, and maybe audio or video give memory footprints well into the hundreds of MB.

    Maybe deaf and blind little old ladies with severe arthritis can get by with a Pentium II, but not too many others. In 2025 the things that will pass for personal computer desktops (something like them will still exist in spite of the cyclical "The PC is Dead" hype), will have a dozen or more CPU cores or perhaps hundreds of smaller cores of various kinds to distribute different types of processing. Cache memory will be much larger than today as will be system RAM and storage. Software will be similar to today's except for far greater detail and granularity of content, and multiple new ways to interact with the data. That will demand a lot of compute power.

    No doubt people will continue to say things like "an exaflop and a zettabyte ought to be enough for anyone," and people like me will continue to deride and mock them.

  • by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @05:10PM (#27679233)

    They are in use for longer, and people hang on to them longer. They are less willing to buy the top-end because there's no reason to.

    You pretty much hit the nail on the head for Microsoft's problem as well. I may be one of the few people that doesn't have that much of a problem with Vista and 7, but if I didn't get my copies from my university for $24.00 I would never have transitioned. XP just works, and more to the point, was designed to work on those older machines.

  • by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot@pitabre ... rg minus painter> on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @05:12PM (#27679271) Homepage
    The point is that the jumps between "good enough" are further and further in between. A P4 is "good enough" for most people right now, and that's what, 6, 7 years old? How long was it between the 486 and the Pentium? Pentium and PII? PII and P3?
  • Re:The future? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @05:17PM (#27679369) Homepage Journal

    If we hadn't let the programmers run amok and force them to write efficient code, what we had back then was 'good enough' for most people.

    OK, so give me an example of inefficient code and your explanation for why it's inefficient. As a professional programmer, I get tired of bearing the blame for "bloat". Sure, I write in high-level languages instead of assembler these days. I write database-backed web applications, and while I'm capable of implementing them on bare hardware, my boss would much rather just buy a faster server and let me code in Python than wait 4 years while I hammer out a prototype in assembler. The end result is that I can add new features in a timeframe that our customers will tolerate.

    If we were stuck on the hardware of 1999, we'd be writing software the same way we did in 1999. Having been there, it sucked compared to what we can do today and I would never voluntarily go back. Do carpenters build "bloated" homes because they use general-purpose fasteners to bind pieces of standardized wood together, or are you willing to tolerate a little deviation from the ideal because you don't want to wait while they grow a tree in the exact shape of your blueprints? Well, I want to do the same for software. If you consider that "bloat", then you don't understand modern software development and what it delivers to end users.

  • Oh really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @05:19PM (#27679387)

    Well then, get on writing efficient code that'll decode HD video on a 900mhz processor. Don't tell me that is something "normal users" don't want, video on PCs is exploding and people are all about a higher res better looking picture. Don't forget the 5.1 audio that goes with that, and HRTF calculations for those that want to wear headphones but get surround. Oh it can't handle that? Well there you go then.

    I get real tired of this whining about "Programmers aren't efficient," thing, as though the be-all, end-all of coding should be the smallest program possible. No, it shouldn't, computers are getting more powerful, we should use that power. There are a number of reasons for programs to get bigger and require more power:

    1) Features. I don't want computers to be stuck and never get any better. I want more features in my software. This goes for all software, not just power user type apps. For example one thing I really value in Office 2003 (and 2007) is their in line spell checker. It is very good at figuring out what I mean when I mistype, and learns from the kind of mistakes I make to autocorrect and make more accurate guesses in the future. Well guess what? That kind of feature takes memory and CPU. You don't get that for free. No big deal, my computer has lots of both. But it isn't "bloat" that it has features like that, rather than being a very simple text editor.

    2) Manageability of code. Generating really optimized code often means generating code that is difficult to work with. I mean in the extreme, you go for assembly language. You get the smallest programs doing that, and if you are good at it the fastest. Ok great, but maintaining an assembly program is a bitch, and it is easy for errors including security issues like buffer overflows to sneak in. Now compare that to doing the same thing in a fully managed language like Java or C#. Code will be WAY bigger, especially if you take the runtimes in to account. However it'll be much cleaner and easier to maintain. No it won't be as efficient, but does it matter? For many tasks there's plenty of power so that's fine.

    3) New technologies. HD video is an example that is out now, true speech understanding (as in you can command the computer using natural language) would be one that we haven't reached yet. These are things that are only possible because of increased processor power and memory/storage capacity. Look at video on the computer. For a long time it was non existent, then when it started it was little postage stamp sized things that weren't useful, to now where you have full screen HD that looks really smooth. It wasn't as though peopel haven't always wanted better video, it was that computers back in the day couldn't handle it. Only recently have drive become large enough to hold it, and CPUs fast enough to decode it in realtime.

    4) Faster response. Computers have gotten MUCH faster at user response. The goal is that users should never have to wait on their system, ever, for anything. The computer should be waiting on the human, not the other way around. We keep getting closer and closer. If you don't try new systems it is hard to appreciate, but it has been massive strides. As a simple example I remember back in high school when I went to print a paper for school, I'd issue the print command and wander to the kitchen. Printing a 5 page paper was a lengthy process. The computer had to use all it's resources for some time to render the text and formatting in to what the printer can handle. Now, I submit a 50 page print job with graphics and all and it is spooled nearly immediately. The printer has the entire job seconds later, since these days the printer has it's own processor and RAM. It is printing before I can walk over to it. Things that I used to have to wait on, are now fast.

    5) Better multitasking. People like to be able to have their computers do more than one thing at a time, and not bog down. It can be simple things like listen to music, download a file, and surf the web but not that long ago it wasn't possibl

  • Re:Cars (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot@pitabre ... rg minus painter> on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @05:25PM (#27679475) Homepage
    That's EXACTLY what happened with cars. We have the technology to build Bugati Veyrons. Most people still buy Toyota Corollas, though. They're good enough. They don't have all the bells and whistles, they don't have all the performance, but they're the right price and they do everything people really need them to do. Sure, it'd be nice to have a lot of the extras, but people don't find them worth it. Same thing with newer computers... the old P4 is fast enough to watch the videos of the grandkids and send emails and type up some recipes and such. It'd be nice if they could edit video faster, but hey, that'd cost a lot for a minimal benefit.
  • Re:meh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rolfwind (528248) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @05:26PM (#27679497)

    Being saying since the Pentium II days. This "always-be-upgrading-the-latest-spec" is fine for hardcore users, but for everybody else, "good enough" happened quite a few hardware generations ago. The sad part is that we're only now having this conversation.

    Being "good enough" depends on your usage. If all you do is small spreadsheets, good enough may have happened in the 1980s. If all you do is word processing, also 1980s. Now, going into office suites, depending on your need and use like powerpoint, it could have been anywhere from the late 90s to mid-2000s.

    But it's also based on expectations and expections are too often influenced from past experiences rather than having the imagination of what could be.

    I program and I browse. Programming can always use a faster computer at compile time for C-type languages. 10 years ago, I would have said my computer back then would have always been good enough for browsing. Most content was static, it displayed the pages easily enough. You know what happened? Flash, Ajax, and the rest - watching videos, more dynamic pages, etcetera. What a internet "should be" has been redefined. Should I pretend this is the end of the road and no other advances in what we think as the internet will happen? Definitely not. For one, higher speed connections will keep transforming what we think our www experience should be. And a more powerful computer is necessary for that.

    And videogames aren't even fooling us yet with their graphics. They got damned good, but they aren't out of uncanny valley yet. And we're not even beginning in 3D displays yet, still looking at these boring 2D planes - when will that happen, what is the killer app there?

    How many undiscovered killer apps are there still? When will the first good AI come out? Or robots with real AI?

    "Good enough" is not good enough. I can't even believe it's a subject worth pondering. It's not exciting and not a reason to be in the computer field. It's static and boring. The story of humanity is the story of constant progress. The only reason people are looking into it is that the MHZ wars have stagnated, and people haven't the best solutions yet how to harness multi-core, a type of despondent response to the seeming lack of progress, the gigantic leaps and bounds computers were making just 5-9 years earlier. Those are problems worth looking into, but I know computers now are definitely not good enough.

    The interface alone is still entirely too dumb, for one.

  • Re:meh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @05:32PM (#27679607) Homepage

    And ~500Mhz of processing power is all you really need for that.

    Yeah, well, in the days of the Pentium II which topped out at 450MHz, that would have been "hardcore".

    So clearly the needs of even the most modest computer users have gone up substantially.

    And assuming the software industry continues to find interesting things for people like your mom to do with their computer, then this will continue.

    Don't get me wrong, there's a "good enough" in every computing generation and there's nothing wrong with people targeting that instead of the latest n' greatest. More and more people are, which is why netbooks are becoming so popular. But the bottom-end netbook of five years from now will be significantly more powerful than the bottom-end netbook of today, and odds are that extra performance will give someone who doesn't need anything more than a netbook a real benefit.

    Point is -- "good enough" is real and valid, but still a moving target.

  • Re:meh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Phroggy (441) <.moc.yggorhp. .ta. .3todhsals.> on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @05:38PM (#27679687) Homepage

    You're kidding, right? Only tech enthusiasts want to watch YouTube? Tech enthusiasts are the ones using features like Spotlight (and whatever Microsoft calls their version of it in the Vista start menu)? Tech enthusiasts want to preview their documents before opening them, because they can't remember the name of the file they want but they know what it looks like?

    Please. Tech enthusiasts are the ones who don't need these features, because we can get along just fine without them (although YouTube has some pretty awesome stuff on it). It's the non-technical users who need indexing and previews.

  • Re:Smart enough... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aldenissin (976329) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @05:55PM (#27679929)

    I feel that if Ubuntu made it easier to change to well made themes, it would cause many people to take a second, if not even the first look. Design is important, and that includes the look and feel. Imagine if during the setup you were given up to ten themes in different colors, all "professionally" done. I am not trying to hate on Ubuntu, I love it, but when I show it to people with the default colors they go uh, yea ok....

      They could even stick to earthy tones and cooler colors. I like blues myself. I would even be willing to donate to this, because I feel that it could that strongly help adoption. I just don't have the artistic skills myself.

  • by David Gerard (12369) <slashdot AT davidgerard DOT co DOT uk> on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @06:03PM (#27680037) Homepage

    Geeks, manufacturers and competitors don't seem to understand:

    People buy Apple products not for the features they have, but for the one feature they lack: unlike the gadgets with more features at half the price, using Apple products doesn't make you want to smash them into a million billion tiny little pieces with a toffee hammer.

    (not posted from my Nokia 5800)

  • by cens0r (655208) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @06:03PM (#27680043) Homepage

    Still camera and video camera resolutions are on the increase, not decreasing.

    Not really. The megapixel wars are basically over. We've just about topped out what people realistically need in a camera. Video is the same. There is really no need to ever capture more than 1080p for home use, the human eye simply can't perceive any quality improvements on screen sizes that are realistic for the home. So basically if you're computer can play 1080p video with 7.1 channel lossless audio, you're pretty much at the end of the tunnel for most people.

  • by Eil (82413) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @06:07PM (#27680077) Homepage Journal

    Hopefully by then Linux will have managed to gain enough market share that most people have heard of it and/or know someone running it and the barrier to a non-MS OS will be much lower

    Linux is already far more prevalent than many of us could have dreamed a decade ago. Linux ships on cell phones, set top boxes, routers, laptops, desktops, even TVs. Linux practically runs the Internet. Any sysadmin worth his salt knows how to install a distro and get basic services up and running. While it's not quite a household name, Linux is absolutely huge right now. The fact that the average consumer doesn't quite understand what Linux is can be attributed to two things:

    1) The general public doesn't really understand computers (to them, the box on the floor is the "hard drive").
    2) Linux has no marketing or advertising strategy (and thus no way to implant the word "Linux" into the pop-culture subconscious).

    But to be honest, neither of these really matter.

    For more than a decade, Linux advocates have been fantasizing that once Linux hits some arbitrary critical mass, it will suddenly become the iPod of operating systems. Hip and cool, everybody needs one! This won't happen. The unwashed masses don't (and shouldn't) care much what software is running on their computer, as long as the computer does what they need it to do. Firefox is an excellent example of this. Even backed by a solid marketing/advertising budget, lots of positive press, and plenty of word-of-mouth, Firefox still hasn't broken 25% market share, even though people love it and it is measurably better than its primary competitor.

    Maybe Firefox will overtake IE someday, just as Linux might overtake Windows one day. But neither are going to be some big all-at-once event that we can jot down in the history books and tell our kids where we were the exact moment that it happened. Linux's market share will continue to do what it has been doing since day one: rise gradually. (With emphasis on the "gradually".)

  • Re:Smart enough... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by CrossChris (806549) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @06:14PM (#27680137)
    It doesn't run photoshop and itunes.
    So what? Windows can't "run" Photoshop without falling over. Besides - who (apart from a few anally-retentive advertising typesetters) actually needs Photoshop? Also, iTunes is appalling, restrictive crapware...
  • Re:meh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jonaskoelker (922170) <jonaskoelker AT gnu DOT org> on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @06:14PM (#27680147) Homepage

    Point is -- "good enough" is real and valid, but still a moving target.

    Writing everything in Python (or god forbid, a language whose interpreter is written in Python) is not helping us lower our minimum requirements.

    To fanboys: I'm a python-lover like yourself. Love writing it. It's just that everyone else should write in C so their code is fast to run :D

  • by highways (1382025) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @06:16PM (#27680167)

    "I think there is a world market for about five computers"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_J._Watson [wikipedia.org]

    They were good enough then. Since then, the market has expanded a little.

  • Re:Smart enough... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by samcan (1349105) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @06:20PM (#27680201)

    The question becomes, who's responsibility is it to get Photoshop working? The Linux community's, or Adobe's?

    I would argue that it is Adobe's responsibility, as they are the company creating a product that people are paying outrageous amounts of money for. They get to choose what operating systems they wish to make it for.

    The Linux community can create different apps, but IMO it is not their responsibility to get Photoshop running. Not all operating systems can run all programs, but you still see a segmentation of the market.

    Also, how many Windows users do you know that truly know how to use Photoshop? Most average users are not going to spend several hundred dollars on a program that complex--instead, they'll either use Windows's built-in facilities, or they'll use a cheaper option (such as Photoshop Elements, or Jasc's Paint Shop Pro).

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @06:49PM (#27680523) Homepage Journal

    The author of this article's supposition requires a 15 year economic downturn. Whenever I hear this predicted, say, from World Net Daily or one of the other far right publishers, it surprises me that to come up with this prediction requires the belief that there will be no technological advances in that period. It's amazing what a couple of new technologies can do to economic predictions. In the eighties, we thought there would be recession for ever, but then personal computers and the Internet came along. I wouldn't be surprised if that just before the Industrial Revolution or the discovery of North America there weren't similar dire predictions.

    Fortunately, innovation is what humans do. One major advance, say, cheap abundant energy, or quantum computing could change everything enough to make these predictions laughable.

    Further, do you really think that if there was such an enormous downturn and change in the personal computer market that Microsoft wouldn't start selling Windows 8 or 9 or 10 for twenty bucks, if only to put a lid on competition?

    I understand well dislike of Microsoft, for many reasons. But when I see predictions of a future dystopia a decade and a half away predicated on a simple fantasy of longed-for collapse of Microsoft, I start to wonder if it's a little wrong-headed.

    Especially when it's couched as "speculative thinking" by someone pretending to be a thoughtful observer. Maybe next we'll see a "speculative" article about near-future solar events that amazingly cause all Windows based computers to explode, killing their users, while making all Macs (and certain flavors of Linux) run 25 times faster. We'd have seen that already but it's hard to type while you're jacking off into an oven mitt.

  • Re:Smart enough... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by node 3 (115640) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @06:50PM (#27680531)

    I feel that if Ubuntu made it easier to change to well made themes...

    How is System>>Preferences>>Appearance anything but easy?

    You'll note he said "easier". A default theme that more people like is easiest. A picker during install is easier.

    And, as we're talking about mass-market users here, a "System" menu is just about the scariest thing they can imagine. They don't see, "This is where you can customize your computer to just the way you want it. Have at it, you freedom-lovin' hacker-dude!" They see, "click the wrong button and you're fucked." Except all the buttons are in Chinese. And they don't read Chinese.

  • Re:Smart enough... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rrohbeck (944847) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @06:58PM (#27680609)

    Imagine... Windows without cygwin. Unusable.

  • Re:Smart enough... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yuna49 (905461) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:06PM (#27680721)

    And how many of those people running Photoshop actually paid for it?

  • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:12PM (#27680777)

    And when people have reduced budgets because the economy tanks, "design over function" companies like BMW, Dyson and Apple will go by the wayside.

    I read earlier today that Apple's profits went up this quarter.

  • Re:Smart enough... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by node 3 (115640) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:12PM (#27680785)

    I would argue that it is Adobe's responsibility, as they are the company creating a product that people are paying outrageous amounts of money for. They get to choose what operating systems they wish to make it for.

    It doesn't matter whose responsibility it is. It doesn't matter whose fault it is. What matters is whose problem it is. And it's Linux's problem.

    If you want people to use your system, and they can't due to some issue, that issue is your problem.

    I always wonder, when Linux advocates blame some third party, what they think the end-user's thought process is going to be. Do you think some graphics artist is going to think, "I want to run Photoshop, but it doesn't work under Linux. It's not Linux's fault, so I guess it's OK. I'll just run Linux and wait for Adobe to port Photoshop over."

    The blame is Adobe's, the problem is Linux's.

  • Re:Smart enough... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Requiem18th (742389) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:14PM (#27680801)

    This is year 2025, the ITMS opened its protocols when YouMedia became the dominant player. Adobe has released a Linux port of its whole creative suite and it's available for purchase in your distro's package manager. GIMP merged again with Cinepaint and it is now the dominant photo editor among starting photo aficionados.

      16 years is more than enough time for this stuff to happen.

  • Re:Smart enough... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:32PM (#27680981) Homepage Journal

    16 years is more than enough time for this stuff to happen.

    That's what they said about ubiquitous jetpacks and flying cars back in the 1960's.

  • by MrPhilby (1493541) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:54PM (#27681169)
    Dyson hoover's are heavy and awful to use. Ask your wife. They may look well engineered but they aint. And truth be told, either are Apple laptops in my opinion.
  • Re:meh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @08:53PM (#27681655) Journal

    >> And ~500Mhz of processing power is all you really need for that.

    > Yeah, well, in the days of the Pentium II which topped out at 450MHz, that would have been "hardcore".

    > So clearly the needs of even the most modest computer users have gone up substantially.

    Yes, but have they gone up recently? Sure, if you go back far enough you'll find unusable computers by the standards of today's average user, but seriously... when was the last time the "average" user really had to upgrade?

    Let's parameterize this to make sure we're all talking about the same thing. "Average", for the purposes of this comment, being defined as someone who uses email, browses the web, plays a few card games, and oh hell, including -- to be brutally fair -- casual video viewing from the likes of youtube and hulu.

    Let's see... The absolute cheapest desktop system I can conveniently find at the moment has a 1.8G Celeron and a gig of memory. That's an embarrassment of riches to perform the paltry functions described above. Laptops: I have at home a Thinkpad 240X (500 Mhz Pentium III, memory maxed out) made in June 2000 -- that's a whole DECADE ago now -- that will do all of those things, *and* play DIVX encoded videos fullscreen without hesitations, and I don't think you could buy a new laptop anywhere today, for any price, that didn't have significantly better specs. *Phones* have better specs.

    To the Linux geeks out there -- yes, you can get more bang for hardware buck with Linux, but don't flatter yourself into thinking that's the only reason ultra-cheap computers are "good enough". Windows XP runs fine for average usage (see above) on hardware made a decade ago. (And of Windows versions, XP itself is "good enough" for the average user, but that's another story.)

    This is not a Linux Phenomenon. It's a case of the manufacturers not shifting paradigms fast enough. In the Old Days (say, the 1990's) we really needed a steep performance development curve because all kinds of new stuff was happening that would make use of every computing cycle one could conveniently afford. Windows tended to drive this, because each new version needed faster hardware to drive it, and there was (arguably) more functionality (or fewer bugs) in each new version to warrant upgrading.

    But shortly after the turn of the century, two things happened: (1) A version was released of the most popular OS on the planet that (finally) was solid enough that the average user didn't immediately aspire to upgrade. (2) Hardware performance leapfrogged past what most people really needed, especially considering (1) above. With no Killer App and no new lugubrious-yet-tantalizing release of Windows to drive it, hardware was suddenly too fast for main street.

    It was fairly recently that the industry finally understood that there was a market for Cheap. What followed was a scramble to adapt to this new market. You could hear the grinding of continental paradigm shift. Even Microsoft -- for God's sake -- is starting to become concerned about performance, instead of just assuming that Moore's Law will somehow compensate for unchecked bloat.

    Let's face it: There is no consumer Killer App for the quad core Nehalem. There are a few painfully cutting edge geeks that may find a use for that kind of power, but most are just fooling themselves -- playing a game of my-cpu-runs-hotter-than-yours. Yet you can put together a killer Nehalem-based PC for less than the cost of a wide screen TV.

    And that's not even taking the economy into account.

    > And assuming the software industry continues to find interesting things for people like your mom to do with their computer, then this will continue.

    That's the current problem (if you want to call it that). The software industry has nothing your mom would need current midrange hardware to run, with nothing in particular coming up.

    Maybe there is a killer app waiting out there -- maybe when true AI becomes practical, it'll drive another technology race. But there hasn't been anything for awhile.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @10:20PM (#27682291) Journal

    Once XP isn't supported and security flaws continue to be discovered, staying on XP will be unappealing.

    I don't even think that's going to matter for the majority of people. They will go and buy a new PC eventually, and that will come with Win7. If that doesn't suck on release as much as Vista did (and all indications from the beta seem to hint that it's actually very good), then Win7 will stay. And that's all there will be to it.

  • by enos (627034) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @11:15PM (#27682691)

    I recently tried Ubuntu after leaving Linux as my primary OS in 2003. You're wrong. The GUIs are only fine if you're willing to stick with their narrow limitations. I think it's because they're constantly being rewritten instead of incrementally improved.

    Examples:

    When I hooked up a second display and clicked "detect displays", it did nothing. No error message, no effect. I see no way to fix this without editing config files manually.

    My sound doesn't work at all. It's listed properly in all the config screens, but nothing comes out of the speakers. Now what do I do? I see no easy way to try different driver or other things without delving into a kernel module mess. Hello, terminal.

    How do I disable that wretched shutdown beep with a GUI? The mute control has no effect on it, nor does disabling the system beep in the sound preferences.

    This is basic stuff that's been an issue for 10 years.

    Sorry, but desktop Linux in 2009 gave me the same experience as desktop Linux in 2003. I.e. 3 days of googling and sludging through manuals to get things working. The process is a tad smoother now, but it's still only good for two groups: Grandma who'll leave it the way it is, and experts who live Linux. Almost everyone I've ever met falls somewhere in between. It's hard to be just savvy in Linux. It's all or nothing.

    Pretty skins are just that, skin deep.

    Don't give me that paid support crap. I've never called MS support. I've never called Apple support. I can figure out how to maintain their systems by using them. If I'm going to have pay someone to help me with how to do basic things in Linux then I might as well just buy one of the other two.

For every bloke who makes his mark, there's half a dozen waiting to rub it out. -- Andy Capp

Working...